Every year, people gather to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. They come to witness firsthand, the famous synchronous fireflies. This year, Discover Life in America (DLiA) in partnership with Radim Schreiber of Firefly Experience hosted a virtual event for all to enjoy.
For approximately the first three weeks of June, swarms of Photinus carolinus mask the forests in the Smoky Mountains with a soft yellow haze. Fireflies from all around gather at an elevation of about 2,100 feet and perform for not only each other but the entire park.
Fireflies are not flies at all. They are re beetles! They belong to the Lampyridae family that have adapted wings with a special covering on their abdomen. Like most beetles, they have these specially sheathed wings that allow them to fly. You may know fireflies to be small insects that come out right at dusk and stay until the early night giving off soft glows at arbitrary levels of the forest.
You may not know it, but as every minute passes different species of fireflies may be coming and going right in from of your eyes, passing the baton to carry the light show. Many fireflies are strictly crepuscular meaning they come out at dusk or dawn and return to their hiding places once the nocturnal predators come out to feed. Others come out once the sunlight is completely gone and flash on into the night. 
The science of bioluminescence has always fascinated the eyes of both scientists and the general public for many years. You can read about the bioluminescent blue neon waves in along the Southern California coast as well! What a sight!
Travel responsibly taking only memories and leaving a near to zero carbon footprint. We are all visitors on this beautiful planet of ours. Let’s treat it and all inhabitants with love and respect!
Governor General Award recipient Helen Hatzis lives to travel. A xenophile at heart, she continues to travel the world and shares her experience on Trip Jaunt, an online travel community and hub she co-founded in 2016. Helen is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association and the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.